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When a young team like Mizzou comes off playing Illinois in front of 20,000 fans, and Oklahoma State in front of 12,000 people, suiting up in front of 7,000 (announced -- not necessarily in attendance) to play Lipscomb isn't exactly easy to get up for. And they didn't. Lipscomb played a tough and determined first 25 minutes before Missouri put on the jets and cruised to a 12 point win.
While this sort of game isn't much fun to watch for the first 25 minutes, you can still see what we've talked about since the start of the season. This team, when they play well, together and hard, are fun to watch. Kim Anderson went with a three point guard lineup for most of the second half with Montaque Gill-Caesar out with a back problem. Keith Shamburger, Wes Clark and Tramaine Isabell did all the right things down the stretch and helped fix the ugly memory of the first half and next few minutes post halftime.
It was refreshing to see Keanau Post play with confidence. The way Chad Lang had pushed around Johnathan Williams III and Jakeenan Gant in the first half, they needed some bulk on bulk, and Post showed why Lang normally played less than 10 minutes a game, and averaged less than 5 over 3 years at Belmont before going to Lipscomb.
Last I want to mention the block. The Tigers were up one when Wes Clark did this...
After this, Mizzou outscored Lipscomb 13-2 the rest of the game. Hustle and energy will take this team a long ways. Now to revisit the three keys to the game.
1) Defend Hard
Season average for Lipscomb before the game vs. Missouri was 70.8 points per game, they scored 60 points. The philosophy behind the game for Lipscomb was to try to get off good shots, a good amount of threes, and not give up transition baskets. This isn't necessarily a bad approach for teams that have good shooters but lack in athleticism. Mizzou was losing this battle for larger portions of the game until they got a few key possessions to go their way. Suddenly you saw the shooting percentages for Lipscomb to go to almost zero. Mizzou renewed their focus on Nathan Moran, who had 17 points after 15 minutes, and didn't score again after that.
Tigers are going to pull this out in the end with good D and taking good shots down the last 14-15 minutes of the game.— Sam Snelling (@SamSnellingRMN) January 4, 2015
So after a while, the Tigers pulled their heads out of their backsides and played the tough defense they needed to win. At the 15 minute mark, the Bison were on pace for 76 points and finished with 60. That's locking down when they needed to.
2) 3 Point Opportunities
You should win most games where the other team shoots 23.5% on 34 attempts from the 3-point line. Missouri didn't shoot great from 3, but they were taking mostly good shots and ended up 5-15. While Moran got his early on (he'd finish by missing his last two to finish 4-7), Brett Wishon was absolutely awful as he was clearly bothered by Missouri's length in shooting 0-9 from behind the arc. Mission accomplished.
3) Do You
It's already been noted, the 25 minute mark of the game. 5 minutes after halftime, the Tigers were down 10. After that, they held the Bison to just 12 points. Span that over the course of the game and it's about 32 points, which would be delightful on the defensive side of the ball. In that same time set, the Tigers scored 32 points, spanned out over the course of a 40 minute game and that's 85 points. So all Mizzou needed to do was to hold those runs for the course of 40 minutes and we'd have a team that would be a splendor to watch.
That's actually completely impossible at this point. I just used the run to illustrate how impressive it was when it finally happened. That it happened without their second leading scorer, and with Tramaine Isabell and Keanau Post leading the charge is most impressive. Once Isabell started making plays and sinking a few shots, that geared up the rest of the team, that allowed Wes Clark and JW3 to close out the game...
Wow beautiful 2 on 2 action with Clark and JW3 there. Ball screen, great roll, great pass.— Sam Snelling (@SamSnellingRMN) January 4, 2015
Closing out games is big. And with Clark and JW3 the Tigers have a young but explosive pick & roll duo. Clarks ability to attack the middle of the paint and make mid range jumpers, and his ability to pass are what set them apart in this regard. Post, Isabell and Shamburger are the reasons why they were in that position, but Clark and JW3 slammed the door.
How do the stats look?
We're hopeful that Mizzou can stick in the 30% 3 point shooting range. They need to up the Free Throw percentage, but by limiting their 3 point attempts, the Tigers do seem to be taking a lot better shots. I suspect part of that is that the teams understanding on spacing in the offense is improving, and they're getting better at understanding what is and isn't a good shot.
For key stretches in this game, the three point guards keyed the offense while they were on the court at the same time. Each guy had huge contributions to the game. It started with Keith Shamburger who made 3 of 5 from 3-point range and finished with 15 points. Without him Missouri would have been sunk early. Wes Clark played the role of closer, as he and JW3 combined to end any chance of a comeback. He had 5 big points late, and a great pass off a pick and roll, all provided the separation Missouri needed to win in the end.
But perhaps the key of the game was the flair that Isabell provided just when they needed it. He nearly provided the play of the game with a spin move for a layup but the ball must have continued his spinning trajectory and bounced off. He still had a career high 14 points on 4-8 shooting, along with 3 rebounds, a couple steals and no turnovers. In fact both Clark and Isabell had zero turnovers. That is the kind of play we need from these three every night going into conference play.
Terrible, then pretty good. Young teams like it when the ball goes in the net.
I am on record as saying that I think Post is a guy they should still try out a few minutes a game. He can be good, and today is a reason why.
- Keith Shamburger: 37 minutes (avg 33.7)
- Wes Clark: 36 minutes (avg 29.3)
- Johnathan Williams III: 25 minutes (avg 28.3)
- Tramaine Isabell: 23 minutes (avg 13.2)
- D'Angelo Allen: 23 minutes (avg 16.6)
- Namon Wright 16 minutes (avg 15.0)
- Keanau Post: 14 minutes (avg 9.5)
- Jakeenan Gant: 12 minutes (avg 16.3)
- Montaque Gill-Caesar: 9 minutes (avg 27.1)
- Ryan Rosburg: 5 minutes (avg 18.8)
- Deuce Bello: DNP Suspended (avg 10.7)